Dollhouse: The Target   Rewatch 
September 25, 2020 9:26 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

A man requests Echo as his companion on a camping trip, but his true intentions are far more deadly. More backstory on the Dollhouse, Alpha, and Boyd's first encounter with Echo.

AV Club: B+

In the A story corner: Icky prostitution meets the most dangerous game! Echo (and Caroline? Or is that just flashback?) starts to bleed into her doll's programming under the influence of drugs. While in the B story corner: Ballard continues to press his Russian contact for more information about the Dollhouse and we meet Mellie for the first time.

Poster's note:
This episode sort of starts the big first season arc, although I don't think it's apparent at the time. But we learn about Alpha! We learn how Boyd was hired, and we meet "Dr Saunders".
posted by Kyol (7 comments total)
Juicing up prostitution with snuff certainly turns the sleaze up. But how could he expect to get away with it? This is obviously a powerful organization and wouldn't take kindly for you breaking one of their toys on purpose. Was he expecting losing his deposit would be enough?

Or is he actually a doll that Alpha created?

I can handwave myopia (send some distorted signals to the visual cortex), asthma (recruit the peripheral nervous system and do some localized vasoconstriction), gunplay (encoded patterns in the motor cortex), but cardiovascular endurance and strength aren't things you can get the CNS to do much to.

We only see the dolls do a bit of light yoga and swimming, and Topher later relates how hard he works and how proud he is of his bodybuilding.

Huh, that's Matt Keeslar as the sleezo; I'm only familiar with him from 'The Middleman' in a very different persona. I've totally forgotten about him as Feyd-Rautha in 'Dune' (2000).

Adelle (always) has the smartest outfits.

Teasing Alpha and the eventual reveal works out really well. As was burying Boyd's true background.
posted by porpoise at 7:49 PM on September 25, 2020

This is obviously a powerful organization and wouldn't take kindly for you breaking one of their toys on purpose. Was he expecting losing his deposit would be enough?

Dominic discovers that the client's background was fake, so he was either planning on getting away with it and disappearing into the world or...

Or is he actually a doll that Alpha created?

They don't say specifically, but the ersatz park ranger that Boyd had locked up in the van was subsequently found dead with to the same sorts of cuts that Alpha used when he was torturing Whiskey and escaping the Dollhouse. Whether that's because the whole thing was Alpha trying to woo his new Number One Doll / immanentize her special powers (although at this point I'm pretty sure that's not actually in the story) or if it was Alpha being pissed off because someone was trying to mess with his Number One Doll, I don't think they made explicit.
posted by Kyol at 9:30 PM on September 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

Ok, I'll have to keep an eye out if Alpha subsequently says anything - my read is that the tainted water immanentizes (good word!) Echo's memories returning, rather than any routine physical trauma.

It's kind of consistent that Alpha left Echo alive, engineers a fake Richard Connell (well enough to escape Dominic's original background check), but spiking the water is a real long shot. Whether or not Echo surviives Connell could be a test of sorts, but still requires the tainted water gambit to work first.

But Alpha does play the long game.

Another bit I liked is after Dominic starts yelling at Adelle that Paul Ballard is a threat, and Adelle brushes him off, that we then get introduced to Mellie (to be revealed as November).
posted by porpoise at 10:18 PM on September 25, 2020

Is this the one where the guy (or Echo?) keeps saying “Shoulder to the wheel?” I always misremember the quote as “Shoulder to the ground” which doesn’t get you anywhere.
posted by Servo5678 at 4:42 AM on September 26, 2020

That's the one!
posted by Kyol at 5:53 PM on September 26, 2020

It seems like it could be a "tic" that's easily programmable enough, and an old enough memory that the experiencer wouldn't challenge/ introspect too much.

Kind of like Echo's "grew up with four brothers, not one of them a liberal."

So would they have programmed in light experience with firearms based on that?
posted by porpoise at 7:23 PM on September 26, 2020

Matt Keelsar as an evil villain was weird on the first watch, and weirder on the rewatch. It made me go look up what he's been doing and it turns out he's been being a physician's assistant and urology instructor at OHSU.
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:14 PM on September 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

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